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Glossary of Glacier Terminology


A glacier outburst flood resulting from the failure of a glacier-ice-dam, glacier-sediment-dam, or from the melting of glacier ice by a volcanic eruption (Icelandic).

East-looking, July 1994, photograph showing a large volume of turbulent, sediment laded flood water discharging from the margin of Bering Glacier during a large surge-related outburst flood. Peak discharge was more than 100,000 CFS. Chugach National Forest, Chugach Mountains, Alaska.. Bering Glacier flows through Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park.


A sand and gravel deposit formed by running water on stagnant or moving-glacier ice. Crevasse fills or crevasse ridges form within crevasses. Kames form on flat or inclined ice, in holes, or in cracks. A kame terrace forms between the glacier and the adjacent land surface. Shapes include hills, mounds, knobs, hummocks, or ridges. (Print-resolution; 12 MB)

North-looking oblique aerial photograph of a complex sediment mass deposited by the retreating Malaspina Glacier in Malaspina Lake. Included are meandering eskers, linear crevasse fills and a massive ice cored kame. Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park, Chugach Mountains, Alaska.


A depression that forms in an outwash plain or other glacial deposit by the melting of an in-situ block of glacier ice that was separated from the retreating glacier-margin and subsequently buried by glacier sedimentation. As the buried ice melts, the depression enlarges.

North-looking oblique aerial photograph showing about a dozen enlarging depressions forming on the surface of debris-covered stagnant ice in the medial moraine band area of Bering Glacier's piedmont lobe, Chugach National Forest, Chugach Mountains, Alaska. The largest kettle shown is ~ 150 feet in diameter. Bering Glacier flows through Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park.

Little Ice Age (Neoglaciation)

The most recent interval of temperate glacier expansion and advance on Earth. It began ~ 650 years ago and continued into the 20th century in many locations. Temperate glaciers in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia were affected.

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